1980 – A. E. Van Vogt (from Lifetime Achievement Awards)
Van Vogt was born in or near Winnipeg (accounts differ) on April 26, 1912. His Dutch family drifted across the Prairies, winding up in Neville and Swift Current, Sask., as well as Morden, Man., before settling in Winnipeg. With the exception of a 1931-1932 stint as a census clerk in Ottawa, he appears to have been based in Winnipeg up to 1939, when he married Edna Mayne Hull, who was born either in Winnipeg or Brandon (again, accounts differ) in 1905.
Seven years his senior, Edna must have exerted considerable literary influence on van Vogt, because the year of their marriage was also the year he became a published science fiction writer. (As E. Mayne Hull, she would go on to write science fiction herself.)
Prior to 1939, van Vogt was already an established scribe, having spent — in the words of science fiction historian James Gunn — “seven earlier years writing true confessions, love stories, radio plays and trade-paper articles.” In 1939, however, he brought out the short story The Black Destroyer, which ran in the July issue of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. It tells of an expedition to a distant planet that almost ends in disaster when a seemingly friendly alien creature turns out to be a cunning, multi-powered killer. The narrative is mostly clunky but really perks up during sequences told from the point of view of the alien, a cat-like being with some control over matter and energy. With that single tale, says science fiction chronicler Lester del Rey, van Vogt “became a major writer at once.”
Having molded van Vogt, Manitoba then bid him farewell. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, van Vogt reportedly tried to join the Canadian military but was rejected due to poor eyesight, and had to content himself as a civilian employee of the military in Ottawa during 1939-1941. He is also said to have lived in Toronto at some point leading up to 1944 (at which point he moved to California). During this period, van Vogt solidified his reputation as a king of science fiction, rivaled only by the likes of Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. He also revealed, however, that the Prairies had left him with an eccentric streak so wide that it would later cause the author Brian W. Aldiss to declare him “a genuinely inspired madman.”
The 1941 short story The Seesaw, which started the so-called Weapon Shops series, indicated what was to come. In this yarn, van Vogt depicted a galaxy-spanning empire that could not be trusted with full power and was counterbalanced by a guild of arms merchants huckstering “defensive” weapons to the public. “The right to buy weapons,” the reader is told, “is the right to be free.”
In 1945, Van Vogt’s novel The World of Null-A was serialized. In it, the hero Gilbert Gosseyn battles a plot to destroy a non-aristotelian (or “Null-A”) utopia established on Venus. Along the way, he learns that he himself is a scientific creation with an advanced brain and multiple bodies, making him an immortal superman.
Not long after this Van Vogt met Ron L. Hubbard. Unsurprisingly, the pair first met through John Whiteside Parsons, a figure constantly popping up in rocketry, science fiction and the occult. Hubbard biographer Russell Miller says the initial encounter occurred in 1945. Thereafter, Hubbard pestered van Vogt to join his following, which van Vogt did in 1950. For three years, he served as the managing director of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Los Angeles (and was a Dianetics “auditor” for decades).
Scientology wrecked van Vogt. Unlike General Semantics, which at least inspired the “Null-A” adventures, Hubbard’s sect inflicted a decade-long drought in which van Vogt wrote little. By the time he started up again, in the 1960s, his moment had already passed, and such younger authors as Damon Knight were mocking him for his peculiarities.
Van Vogt still had fans, however — and one of them was Philip K. Dick. This made sense, because van Vogt’s stories were often fractured accounts of paranoia and shifting reality, which would not only typify Dick’s fictional realm, too, but sometimes his real-life one, as well. Brain W. Aldiss regarded the pair as so philosophically close that he called van Vogt “Dick’s father-figure.” Without van Vogt, Dick’s writings (which loom so large in Hollywood today) may have taken a different path.
– From Scott Van Wynsberghe, Special to National Post | September 10, 2012 –
1981 – Susan Wood (from Lifetime Achievement Awards)
Susan Joan Wood was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1948 and earned a B.A. (1969) and an M.A. (1970) from Carleton University and a Ph.D. (1975) from the University of Toronto. She joined the English Dept. at UBC in 1975 and taught Canadian literature, science fiction and children’s literature. She received two Science Fiction Achievement Awards (“Hugo” awards) for critical writing in that genre (1974, 1977). She was the Vancouver editor of the Pacific Northwest Review of Books (Jan.-Oct. 1978) and also edited the special science fiction/fantasy issue of Room of One’s Own. She wrote numerous articles and book reviews that were subsequently published in books and journals while continuing to write for fanzines.
Wood discovered science fiction fandom while she was studying at Carleton University in the 1960s. Wood met fellow fan Mike Glicksohn of Toronto at Boskone VI in 1969. Wood and Glicksohn married in 1970 (she subsequently sometimes published as Susan Wood Glicksohn), and they published the fanzine Energumen together until 1973. Energumen won the 1973 Hugo for Best Fanzine. Wood and Glicksohn were co-guests of honor at the 1975 World Science Fiction Convention. Wood published a great deal of trenchant criticism of the field, both in fanzines and in more formal venues. She received three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Writer, in 1974, 1977, and 1981. In 1976 she was instrumental in organizing the first feminist panel at a science fiction convention, at MidAmericon (that year’s WorldCon). The reaction to this helped lead to the founding of A Women’s APA  and of WisCon.
While teaching courses in science fiction at UBC, one of her students was William Gibson; his first published story, “Fragments of a Hologram Rose”, was originally written as an assignment in the class.
A memorial scholarship fund at Carleton University was established after her death, funded in part by donations from science fiction fandom (and from the sale of parts of her collection of science fiction art).
Phyllis Gotlieb, née Bloom, poet, short story writer, novelist (born at Toronto 25 May 1926, died there 14 Jul 2009). Phyllis Gotlieb was raised and educated in Toronto and attended the University of Toronto (BA, 1948; MA 1950).
Phyllis Fay Gotlieb
Phyllis Fay Gotlieb, née Bloom, poet, short story writer, novelist (born at Toronto 25 May 1926, died there 14 Jul 2009). Phyllis Gotlieb was raised and educated in Toronto and attended the University of Toronto (BA, 1948; MA 1950). A celebrated poet and internationally popular writer, Gotlieb has been called the mother of contemporary Canadian science fiction.
Phyllis Gotlieb’s first published work, Who Knows One (1961), is a pamphlet of poems; it has been followed by other poetic collections that joyfully celebrate the wonder of the natural universe. Her poetry explores family relationships, historical roots, and human psychology and biology, concerns evident in her first full-length volume, Within the Zodiac (1964).
In the poems of Ordinary Moving (1969), Phyllis Gotlieb often makes use of other people’s words – childhood rhymes, folk verse, telephone numbers, parts of the human skeleton – to which she adds her own feelings and penetrating insights into the human condition. Also in 1969, Gotlieb published Why Should I Have All the Grief? (1969), a novel about the aftermath of Auschwitz projected into contemporary Canadian Jewish life. Doctor Umlaut’s Earthly Kingdom (1974) includes shorter poems and several verse plays commissioned by the CBC. The Works: Collected Poems was published in 1978, and Red Blood, Black Ink, White Paper: New and Selected poems, 1961-2001 in 2002.
Phyllis Gotlieb is also a prolific and frequently translated science fiction writer. Like her poetry, her science fiction has a magical charm in its blending of fantasy and metaphysics, and also focuses on ethical questions. Sunburst (1964) examines the problems created by members of the community afflicted with telepathic powers, and O Master Caliban! (1976) evokes a world containing semi-human machines and genetic mutation. Her other fantasy novels include the bestselling Starcats trilogy: A Judgment of Dragons (1980), featuring 2 cat protagonists, Emperor, Swords, Pentacles (1982) and The Kingdom of the Cats (1985). A Judgment of Dragons won the inaugural Aurora Award for best Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel.
Phyllis Gotlieb has also written numerous science fiction stories, published in various magazines, anthologies and the collections Son of the Morning (1985) and Blue Apes (1995). Heart of Red Iron, a sequel to O Master Caliban!, was published in 1989. Flesh and Gold (1998), Violent Stars (1999) and MindWorlds (2002) make up the GalFed trilogy. Her feminist fantasy novel Birthstones was published in 2007. The Sunburst Award, Canada’s first juried prize for Literature of the Fantastic, was named in honour of Phyllis Gotlieb’s first science fiction novel.
Sunburst. New York: Fawcett, 1964.
Why Should I Have All the Grief? Toronto: Macmillan, 1969.
O Master Caliban! New York: Harper and Row, 1976.
A Judgement of Dragons. New York: Berkley Publishers, 1980.
Emperor, Swords, Pentacles. New York: Ace, 1982.
Son of the Morning and Other Stories. New York: Ace, 1983.
The Kingdom of the Cats. New York: Ace, 1985.
Heart of Red Iron. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.
Blue Apes. Edmonton: Tesseract Books, 1995.
Flesh and Gold. New York: Tor, 1998.
Violent Stars. New York: Tor, 1999.
Mindworld. New York: Tor, 2002.
Birthstones. Toronto: Robert J. Sawyer Books, 2007.
Who Knows One? Toronto: Hawkshead Press, 1961.
Within the Zodiac. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1964.
Ordinary Moving. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Doctor Umlaut’s Earthly Kingdom. London, ON: Calliope Press, 1974.
The Works. London, ON: Calliope Press, 1978.
Red Blood Black Ink White Paper: New and Selected Poems 1961–2001. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2002. – 2002
Phyllis Loves Kelly. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2014.
1983 – Judith Merril (from Lifetime Achievement Awards)
Judith Josephine Grossman (January 21, 1923 – September 12, 1997), who took the pen-name Judith Merril about 1945, was an American and then Canadian science fiction writer, editor and political activist, and one of the first women to be widely influential in those roles.
Merril was among those who in 1968 signed an anti-Vietnam War advertisement in Galaxy Science Fiction. In the late 1960s, Merril moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, citing what she called undemocratic suppression of anti-Vietnam War activities by the U.S. government. She was a founding resident of Rochdale College, an experiment in student-run education and cooperative living, very much part of the zeitgeist of the era. At Rochdale, she was the “Resource Person on Writing and Publishing” with her extensive personal collection of books and unpublished manuscripts.
In 1970 she began an endowment at the Toronto Public Library for the collection of all science fiction published in the English language. She donated all of the books and magazines in her possession to the library, which established the “Spaced Out Library” (her term) with Merril in a non-administrative role as curator. The library has had its own physical space from the onset. During her last decade it was renamed the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy. She received a small annual stipend as curator and, when short of money, she lived in her office at the library, sleeping on a cot.
From 1978 to 1981 Merril introduced Canadian broadcasts of Doctor Who. As the “Undoctor”, Merril presented short (3-7 minute) philosophical commentaries on the show’s themes.
Merril was an active organizer and promoter of science fiction in Canada. For example, she founded the Hydra North network of writers. In 1985 she launched and edited the first Tesseract an occasional anthology of Canadian science fiction from Press Porcépic (Toronto) that helped to define a particularly Canadian version of the genre.
In the early 1980s, Merril donated to the National Archives of Canada her voluminous collection of correspondence, unpublished manuscripts, and Japanese science-fiction material – eventually the Judith Merril Fonds.
Merril became a Canadian citizen in 1976 and became active in its Writers’ Union. When the Union debated at its annual meeting whether people could write about other genders and ethnic groups, she exclaimed “Who will speak for the aliens?”, which closed the debate.
From the mid-1970s until her death, Merril spent much time in the Canadian peace movement, including traveling to Ottawa dressed as a witch in order to hex Parliament for allowing American cruise missile testing over Canada.
She also remained active in the SF world as a commentator and mentor. Her lifetime of work was honoured by the International Authors Festival at the Harbourfront Centre, Toronto. She spent much time working on her memoirs.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA renamed) made Merril its Author Emeritus for 1997 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted her in 2013.
In contemplation of her death, she left a sizable sum of money to hold a celebratory/memorial party at the Bamboo Club in Toronto. An organized editor to the end, she prepared detailed lists of who should call whom when she finally died.
2008 – Dennis Mullin (from Lifetime Achievement Awards)
Dennis Mullin discovered science-fiction fandom in 1975 and worked for over a decade on Wilfcon, the literary science-fiction convention at Wilfrid Laurier University, frequently serving as its chair.
In 1991, he joined the Aurora Awards committee and became the principal keeper of the Aurora flame for the next fifteen years, publishing comprehensive bibliographies of Canadian-authored SF&F to aid nominators and, when the Auroras had on-site voting, traveling at his own expense to serve as scrutineer.
Dennis championed the careers of many of the Canadian professional writers who emerged in the 1980s and 1990s including James Alan Gardner, Terence M. Green, Tanya Huff, Robert J. Sawyer, and Andrew Weiner, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Aurora Award in 2008, only the second fan ever to be so honoured.
2013 – Robert J. Sawyer (from Lifetime Achievement Awards)
Robert J. Sawyer, a Member of the Order of Canada, is the bestselling author of Hugo Award-winner Hominids and Nebula Award-winner The Terminal Experiment, plus Starplex, Frameshift, Factoring Humanity, Calculating God, Humans, Rollback, and Wake, all of which were Hugo Award finalists. The ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his Aurora Award-winning novel. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Winnipeg and Laurentian University, and was one of the nine initial inductees into the Canadian SF&F Hall of Fame.
Sawyer has long been an advocate of Canadian science fiction. He lobbied hard for the creation of the Canadian Region of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The Canadian Region was established in 1992, and Sawyer served for three years on SFWA’s Board of Directors as the first Canadian Regional Director (1992–1995). He also edited the newsletter of the Canadian Region, called Alouette in honor of Canada’s first satellite; the newsletter was nominated for a Prix Aurora Award for best fanzine.
[Robert J. Sawyer wrote this 10,000-word autobiography in January 2003 under commission for Gale Research. It appeared in Contemporary Authors Volume 212, published in 2004.] Excerpts follow:
My father, John Arthur Sawyer, was born in Toronto in 1924; his ancestry is Scottish and English. My mother, Virginia Kivley Peterson Sawyer, was born in Appleton, Minnesota, in 1925, but grew up in Berkeley, California. Her background is Swedish and Norwegian. They were married at the University of Chicago in 1952, where they were both graduate students in economics.
Shortly thereafter, they moved to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, where my dad was employed by what was then called the Dominion Bureau of Statistics and is now known as Statistics Canada. I was born in Ottawa on April 29, 1960 — but my parents almost immediately moved again, this time to Toronto, so that my father could take a teaching post at the University of Toronto starting in the fall of 1960.
After a few years, my mother started teaching at the University of Toronto, as well, lecturing in statistics. It was unusual, back then, having a mother who worked outside the home, and even more so to have one who worked in an intellectually challenging field; my friends didn’t quite know what to make of it. Still, it had advantages: we were the first family on our street to have two cars — one for my dad and one for my mom. These days, that’s very common, but it wasn’t then, and I was very proud of both my parents.
I have two brothers, Peter Douglas Sawyer, who is six years older than me, and Alan Bruce Sawyer, who is sixteen months younger.
~ ~ ~
Enter John Rose, the elfin proprietor of Bakka, Toronto’s science-fiction specialty bookstore. I’d been a regular customer of the store for eight years by this point, and John offered me a summer job. The pay was just $4.25 an hour; I probably could have found something somewhat more lucrative, but the chance to work in a science-fiction store was too appealing to pass up.
I worked the cash desk, shelved books, and counted inventory — but there was one part of the job I managed to avoid. Books go into bookstores on a returnable basis, meaning if they don’t sell, the retailer can return them to the publisher and owe nothing. But for paperback books — the format back then that most science fiction was published in — only the covers of the books are returned. They’re ripped from the body of the book, and the store destroys what’s left. The other clerks, who were long-term employees, all had to do this, but I managed not to have to do it; I said — only half-kidding — that I thought it would scar me for life.
I really didn’t end up making any money at Bakka. As an employee, I was entitled to a 40% discount on everything in the store, and I spent almost my entire earnings buying books.
Still, in June of that year, John Rose did something remarkable. He took me to the annual convention of the Canadian Booksellers Association. It was, in many ways, a crazy thing to do — John had to (a) pay me my wages for the day I attended, and (b) pay a fee to get me in. But John knew I wanted to be a writer, and he thought I should really see how the retailing industry works. The CBA convention — now called BookExpo Canada — is where publishers come to show retailers their upcoming books, and where big-name authors sign copies of their new books for retailers (the comparable American event is, not surprisingly, called BookExpo America).
That summer was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me. Many of my writing colleagues are astonished about how savvy I am about the business of publishing; well, the seeds of that came from that summer working in a bookstore, and that day at the CBA.
2014 – William Gibson
William Gibson (born March 17, 1948) is an American-Canadian speculative fiction writer and essayist widely credited with pioneering the science fiction subgenre known as cyberpunk. Beginning his writing career in the late 1970s, his early works were noir, near-future stories that explored the effects of technology, cybernetics, and computer networks on humans‚ “a combination of lowlife and high tech” and helped to create an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. Gibson notably coined the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome” (1982) and later popularized the concept in his acclaimed debut novel Neuromancer (1984). These early works have been credited with “renovating” science fiction literature.
After expanding on Neuromancer with two more novels to complete the dystopic Sprawl trilogy, Gibson collaborated with Bruce Sterling on the alternate history novel The Difference Engine (1990), which became an important work of the science fiction subgenre steampunk. In the 1990s, Gibson composed the Bridge trilogy of novels, which explored the sociological developments of near-future urban environments, postindustrial society, and late capitalism. Following the turn of the century and the events of 9/11, Gibson emerged with a string of increasingly realist novels‚ Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007), and Zero History (2010)‚ set in a roughly contemporary world. These works saw his name reach mainstream bestseller lists for the first time. His more recent novel, The Peripheral (2014), returned to a more overt engagement with technology and recognizable science fiction concerns.
In 1999, The Guardian described Gibson as “probably the most important novelist of the past two decades,” while the Sydney Morning Herald called him the “noir prophet” of cyberpunk. Throughout his career, Gibson has written more than 20 short stories and 10 critically acclaimed novels (one in collaboration), contributed articles to several major publications, and collaborated extensively with performance artists, filmmakers, and musicians. His work has been cited as an influence across a variety of disciplines spanning academia, design, film, literature, music, cyberculture, and technology.
2014 – Spider & Jeanne Robinson
Since he began writing professionally in 1972, Spider Robinson has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and countless other international and regional awards. Most of his 36 books are still in print, in 10 languages. His short work has appeared in magazines around the planet, from Omni and Analog to Xhurnal Izobretatel i Rationalizator (Moscow), and in numerous anthologies. The Usenet newsgroup alt.callahans and its many internet offshoots, inspired by his Callahan’s Place series, for many years constituted one of the largest non-porn networks in cyberspace.
Spider was born in New York City in 1948, and holds a Bachelors degree in English from the State University of New York. He was regular book reviewer for Galaxy, Analog and New Destinies magazines for nearly a decade, and contributes occasional book reviews to The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, for which he wrote a regular Op-Ed column from 1996-2004. As an audiobook reader of his own and others’ work, he has won the Earphones Award and been a finalist for the Audie, and his podcast Spider On The Web has appeared online weekly since September 2007. In 2001 he released Belaboring the Obvious, a CD featuring original music accompanied by guitar legend Amos Garrett. He has written songs in collaboration with David Crosby and with Todd Butler.
In 2006 he became the only writer ever to collaborate on a novel with First GrandMaster of Science Fiction Robert A. Heinlein, posthumously completing VARIABLE STAR. That same year the Library of Congress invited him to Washington D.C. to be a guest of the First Lady at the White House for the National Book Festival. In 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature.
He was married for over 30 years to Jeanne Robinson, a Boston-born writer, choreographer, former dancer and teacher. She was founder/artistic director of Halifax’s Nova Dance Theatre during its 8-year history. The Robinsons collaborated on the Hugo- Nebula- and Locus-winning Stardance Trilogy, concerning zero-gravity dance. Jeanne began writing, producing and choreographing a film, STARDANCE, with producer/co-director James Sposto but died (May 30, 2010). before it could be completed.
Spider and Jeanne met in the woods of Nova Scotia in the early 1970s, and lived for the last two decades in British Columbia, where they raised and exhibited hopes.
Dave Duncan is one of the most prolific Fantasy authors in Canada with over 40 published works since 1984. After a full career in the Oil and Gas industry, Dave decided to become a full time writer. With the success of his Seventh Sword series he has been regularly published. He also has books out under the names Ken Hood and Sarah B. Franklin.
Dave has been a regular at Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions in Western Canada. He has been nominated for the Aurora award three times and won it twice for his novels, West of January and Children of Chaos. He has been a guest of honour at numerous conventions as well as at the World Fantasy convention in 2006 in Austin Texas.
2015 – Michael Coney
Michael Coney, who has died in British Columbia aged 73, established himself in the mid-1970s as one of the leading British science-fiction writers of his day, with a string of novels distinctive for their combination of light readability on the surface and much darker inner depths.
He was born in Britain, but was already an expatriate on the West Indian island of Antigua by the time his first short story was published. This appeared in 1969, in the now-defunct SF magazine, Vision of Tomorrow. Several more stories followed in both British and American publications. Most of these were anthologised, and Coney’s first collection of his own short work appeared soon afterwards.
But it was not until his first novels were published that Coney made a real impact on his readers. The ones that made a particular impression were Mirror Image (1972), Winter’s Children (1974) and Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975), though all his books at this time did well, both critically and among the readership. During this period, Coney was managing an Antiguan hotel called the Jabberwock, a beachfront nightclub with a few guest rooms. He had left Britain in 1969, after the sort of disengaged career attempts that characterised the early years of so many writers.
Coney was born in Birmingham. His mother was a successful artist. By profession, his father was a dentist, but his real passion was his skill as a mechanical engineer and craftsman, gifts he used to build working models of steam engines for his son.
Coney attended King Edward’s school, Edgbaston, and on leaving became a trainee auditor and accountant. His career was interrupted by national service in the RAF between 1956 and 1958. Although he qualified as a chartered accountant, and practised in England, he did not like the life, and, against the wishes of his parents, moved out of the profession. He spent a spell as a tenant landlord in Devon, working for Plymouth Breweries, though the birth of his daughter Sally in the mid-1960s persuaded him to return briefly to accountancy.
The atmosphere of the west country influenced most of Coney’s work, in particular Hello Summer, Goodbye, which was an early highlight. A novel that is both charming and chilling, it had much in common with the best books by DG Compton, Richard Cowper or Keith Roberts. Another excellent novel from this period was Friends Come in Boxes (1973), a mordant and witty solution to the problems of over-population.
Restlessness about his work and life continued, and, in young middle age, Coney decided to pull up his roots and take his family for a fresh start in the West Indies. The exotic locale, contrasting strongly with his background in accountants’ offices in Britain, clearly released the creative flow. His best work was either written or planned on Antigua.
Although he enjoyed his years on the island, Coney felt increasingly that local politicians were fostering negative attitudes against white-run businesses. In 1972, he and his wife, Daphne, moved to Canada, believing there would be greater opportunities for their children than in England. They ended up in Vancouver. It was raining – nothing unusual for Vancouver – so they took the ferry across to Vancouver Island, where they could see the sun was shining. They stayed put. Coney found a job with the Forest Service and remained with them until his retirement at the end of the 1980s. He and Daphne later became Canadian citizens.
The move to Canada approximately marks the end of Coney’s best, and most original, period of writing. His novel Brontomek! (1976) described a group of aliens who could mimic human beings so exactly that they came to believe they were, indeed, human. The book won the British Science Fiction Association Award in 1977, but afterwards Coney’s output was marked by fitfulness. Two young adult novels, and his SF books of the 1980s, which often drew on his interests in sailing and locomotives, made no great impact.
However, his interest in maritime subjects led to several extremely successful non-fiction books about the Vancouver locality, notably one about the elderly wooden boats used by the Forest Service to patrol the coasts, fight fires and so on. Coney formed a company called Porthole Press for the purpose of distributing the title and, over the next decade, published several other books of local history. On retirement, he sold the press.
When his cancer was discovered, he made four of his last books available as free internet downloads, including I Remember Palahaxi, the sequel to Hello Summer, Goodbye. There is also a collection of short stories. He is survived by Daphne and his adult children, Kevin, Andrew and Sally.
· Michael Greatrex Coney, writer, born September 28 1932; died November 4 2005
2015 – H.A. Hargreaves
- His short stories exemplify what makes Canadian SF ‘Canadian’
- His short stories are of outstanding quality, and profoundly influenced the subsequent generation of Canadian SF writers
- His short story “Dead to the World” is a widely reprinted classic
- His was the first collection of SF ever marketed as “Canadian Science Fiction”
- He was twice nominated for the Lifetime Achievement award for the CSFFA.
When North by 2000: A Collection of Canadian Science was published in 1975, it was the very first collection of short stories clearly marketed as Canadian science fictiona slightly ironic claim to fame for stories written by an American-born author, and previously published in various British magazines and anthologies. But wherever originally born or published, Hargreaves was clearly writing something completely new: science fiction with a distinctly Canadian twist.
His writing had a profound impact on the generation of Canadian writers, critics and editors who came after him. For example, I had already been aware that there were Canadians writing science fiction when I first encountered Hargreaves, but it wasn’t until I heard him read “Dead to the World” that I had actually understood that Canadian science fiction was different. My jaw, and the penny, dropped as Hargreaves finished reading. I do not think it an exaggeration to say that hearing Hargreaves read “Dead to the World” changed my life; it certainly was the basis for my career as a Canadian SF critic.
Nearly 40 years later, and I’m still talking about “Dead to the World”. It’s a wonderful example of how and why Canadian SF takes a different slant on things, and why Canadian SF is worth seeking out. I first read North by 2000 nearly 40 years ago. I must have read three or four thousand other short stores since: so why is it that “Dead to the World” and “Cainn” and “Tee Vee Man” and “Protected Environment” and “More Things in Heaven and Earth” are the stories that keep surfacing in my memory? Why is it that when I’m trying to explain what makes Canadian science fiction Canadian, these are stories that jump to mind as the exemplars? Why is it when I wrote my own first novel, I suddenly recognized that the opening was a direct (if unconscious) steal from the automat scene in “Dead to the World”? What is it about these half dozen, quiet, unpretentious stories that makes them so influential, so compellingly memorable?
The answer, I think, is that Hargreaves tapped into a Canadian mindset, a Canadian way of thinking about things, that resonates with Canadian readers. Again, it’s a bit ironic that I should be saying that about an American-born writer whose other story collection (Growing up Bronx: A Memoir of My Shapers and Shakers) is about how his formative years in the Bronx shaped who he became. But I think it is fair to claim Hargreaves as a Canadian writer: all these stories were written after he had emigrated to Canada—he had been here 28 years when North by 2000 was first published; all his SF stories are set in Canada; and all his protagonists (even the bad guys) behave like Canadians, address Canadian themes, and come to Canadian-style endings. And Hargreaves’ fiction was never published in the States: all his stories before 1979 were published in England; after that, Canada. It is not my intent to discount Hargreaves’ American roots; indeed, I would argue that one common characteristic of Canadian SF writers is that many of them (Fredrik Brio, J. Brian Clarke, Michael G. Coney, Dave Duncan, Pauline Gedge, William Gibson, Matthew Hughes, Crawford Killian, Edward Llewellyn, Alberto Manguel, Judith Merril, Spider Robinson, Robert Sawyer, Sean Stewart, Andrew Weiner, Edward Willett, Robert Charles Wilson) came from someplace else. It’s our immigrant backgrounds that explains half of what makes Canadian SF distinct. (More on that in a moment.)
Hargreaves’ SF—with its police robots, televised classrooms, communication satellites, and so on—could be classified as ‘hard science fiction’ (that is, SF based in the ‘hard sciences’), which is essentially an American genre. But there is also a lot of sociology, psychology, parapsychology, and criminology (that is, the ‘soft’ sciences) in here too, which is more typical of the British version of the genre. Canadian SF (like much else that is Canadian) tends to be some amalgam of British and American traditions.
Of course, any attempt to characterize a nation’s literature is doomed to simplistic overgeneralization that ignores the individuality of the author; and yet, we are all influenced by the culture milieu in which we find ourselves, and one can perhaps discern certain trends. The typical story in John W. Campbell’s Analog (for over 30 years the dominant American SF magazine) had an engineer land on a planet, be confronted with a technological problem, solve it, and thus make space safe for America. The British in the same period, by contrast, tended to write more downbeat, dystopian fiction, with only the occasional foray into “Empire” SF. The post-modernist, “New Wave” SF of the late 1960s and early 1970s, for example, found its home in the highly respected British magazine, New Worlds.
The stories in North by 2000 were all originally submitted to Analog, but then published in New Worlds, or similarly-oriented British anthologies. In each case, the legendary Campbell returned Hargreaves’ submission with extensive personal notes for how it would have to be rewritten to fit into Campbell’s vision for Analog; and in each case, Hargreaves would choose not to compromise his own vision, and instead sent the story off overseas. Campbell apparently considered this perfectly appropriate, because with the last story, Campbell ended his notes with the comment that instead of taking his advice, Hargreaves should just once again send the story to New Worlds and have it published as it stood. Campbell clearly admired Hargreaves’ writing, just did not see his stories as Analog material. It is tempting to suggest it was because Hargreaves’ stories were too Canadian.
So, what characterizes Canadian SF? In his preface to Other Canadas (1979), the first multi-author anthology of Canadian SF, John Robert Colombo identified three themes as typically Canadian: (1) the “Polar World”; (2) the “National Disaster Scenario”; and (3) the “Alienated Outsider”. Colombo also observed that Canadians tended to write more fantasy than science fiction, but in Hargreaves’ case, it is all science fiction.
Columbo’s “polar world” theme has mostly been dismissed as an example of circular reasoning, since Colombo defined as “Canadian” anything set in the Canadian North. Unlike Hargreaves, who set “Tangled Web” and “Protected Environment” in the North (though not, strictly speaking, in the arctic), few of the current generation of Canadian writers show any interest in the polar world. Perhaps that makes Hargreaves’s SF doubly Canadian, but it would probably be more accurate to suggest that these stories exemplify the Canadian view that humans are subordinate to nature. Where American protagonists tend to be larger than life and dominate their worlds, Canadian protagonists tend to be overwhelmed by their surroundings. In Canadian literature, when one goes forth to challenge the elements, as in “Protected Environment”, one generally loses. Similarly, what elevates the actions of Hargreaves’ protagonist in “Tee Vee Man” to heroic status is the absolutely routine nature of his actions in the face of an unrelentingly hostile environment. In this instance, the protagonist survives, but at cost, and his only reward is to have lived another day, and to be allowed the privilege of doing it all again tomorrow. It is a pretty good metaphor for life.
This sense of subordination to the environment may also explain why Canadians writers, including Hargreaves, tend not to create vast interstellar empires. We live in a country in which enormous areas are virtually uninhabitable and population centres are separated by immense distances. Flying up north or driving across the prairies at night may not be a perfect parallel to space travel, but it reminds us what ‘distance’ really means. If it is this difficult for someone in Ottawa to relate to conditions in Halifax or Victoria, then how much more ridiculous to expect the bureaucracy to manage a colony on a planet circling some distant star? Thus, in Hargreaves’ one nod to interstellar travel, “Infinite Variation”, the colonial official is left isolated at the end of a too long line of communication, forced to actions he does not want to take, evoking consequences he does not want to consider.
The “national disaster scenario” can also be found in Hargreaves’ work. Although it would be decidedly unCanadian to indulge in the sort of patriotic fervor found among Americans, or even the Brits, the more nationalistic among us might feel that Hargreaves’ projection of Americanada itself represents a political disaster. I do not think that can count, however, since Hargreaves himself clearly underplays the matter: one cannot claim that the stories are about the fall of Canada, or that Hargreaves depicts the matter as one of particular import. But “2020 Vision” is clearly an apocalyptic vision, with Central Canada gone, and the rest thrown back a hundred years. Similarly, “Tee Vee Man” manages to narrowly avert a national disaster somewhere on the Africa Continent; and the world in “Infinite Variation” is inexorably sliding into its own global (albeit spiritual) crisis.
The theme of “alienated outsider”, however, is the key to understanding both Hargreaves’ canon and Canadian SF in general. Much of 20th century literature addresses the theme of alienation, of course, but what struck me while listening to Hargreaves read the ending of “Dead to the World”, lo these 40 years ago, was that this was the first time anyone had hinted that alienation might be a good thing. Cut off from his identity as a living citizen, totally and irretrievably isolated from the community around him, Joe Schultz achieves a lifestyle and contentment that would have been impossible in his former role as participating citizen. In the end, Joe Schultz realizes that he is quite literally, better off ‘dead’.
That being an outsider might be preferable, is a concept that could only resonate with a Canadian. I attribute this to two factors: first, our central mythos (whatever the reality) of multiculturalism; second, our proximity to the United States. Whereas the American melting pot attempts to assimilate everyone into a single culture dynamic, the official Canadian policy of multiculturalism attempts to preserve a mosaic of interacting but distinctive cultures. Remaining outside the mainstream, then, is a Canadian cultural imperative. Canadian SF writers get this, because—like Hargreaves—many of them are in fact immigrants. By the same measure, even the Canadian-born often feel economically, politically, and culturally overwhelmed by our American neighbours. Consigned to the hinterland of (North) American civilization, we often perceive ourselves isolated from the people and events that are shaping the world and the future. Sometimes it seems as if the only thing all Canadians have in common is the vague feeling that whatever is important in the world, it is not to be found here. With practically every Canadian belonging to a minority group different from that of their neighbours, and with a national population too small to achieve a consistent presence in international affairs, the “alienated outsider” is ultimately all Canadians.
This universal Canadian sense of alienation from the mainstream has three implications for Canadian SF.
First, the “prevalence of fantasy over science fiction” in Canadian SF that Colombo noted may be explained by the fact that, unlike the nation of pragmatic technocrats to the south, Canadians tend to be more concerned with preserving our past—our separate cultural ties and heritages—than with our somewhat dubious future. Most ‘hard’ science fiction in Hargreaves’ era was essentially the literature of expanding economic and technocratic empires, the outgrowth of an America confident that the future belonged to it. In contrast, as Elisabeth Vonarburg once pointed out, it is more difficult for an author from Quebec to take seriously that the people staffing the space station fifty years from now will be named Jacques-Yves and Marie-Claude.
Second, the concept of “hero” in Canadian literature is different from the traditional image of heroism in SF. Because Canadians are accustomed to feeling like the underdog, Canadian writers tend to concentrate more on ordinary people muddling through ordinary lives, rather than the all-capable, all-conquering Hero of Campbellian SF. Canadian protagonists are rarely ‘alpha males’; they bumble more and are self-effacing (“like the writers”, Hargreaves once said). Our ‘heroes’ tend to be victims, or losers with occasional wins; any victories that such a character achieves will be hard won and indecisive, since one is always at the mercy of time and the elements.
Take Hargreaves’ Tee Vee Man: he’s the archetypal Canadian hero, precisely because he isn’t the Captain or the Chief Scientist or the gun-toting hero; he is just the guy that does the repairs. Tee Vee clearly sees himself at the bottom of the totem pole, as having made a wrong decision in coming to the station. His victory over the elements is both costly and temporary (because he has to do it all again, tomorrow), though his self-esteem and job satisfaction do improve in the end. Similarly, the protagonist of “Tangled Web” is the mild mannered Scroop, exiled to a utility closet in the inhospitable North for trying (and failing) to help Joe Schultz. Even Joe Schultz, in “Dead to the World”, setting out to reclaim his identity and life, achieves a happy ending only in the complete failure of any of his actions to achieve the goal for which he was actually striving.
On the other hand, when protagonists try to behave as alpha males in Canadian fiction, the results are usually traumatic. Again, Hargreaves’ stories provide absolutely typical illustrations of the principle: When the villainous protagonist of “In His Moccasins” tries to overcome the odds, take charge of his situation, and impose his will on those around him, he fails utterly; indeed, he ends up out in the cold, alienated even from his own body, forced to view the world from someone else’s perspective. Similarly, Mel Colter, the macho hero of “2020 Vision”, is forced to the realization that he is fighting a losing battle, that the world has moved on, and that ultimately he has become no better than the enemy that destroyed his wife.
Rather than Campbell’s traditional larger-then-life Hero, then, Canadian SF is more likely to take the point of view of the bystander. The narrator in “‘Fore’ – Eight – Sixteen”, for example, is not the inventor, but merely one of his sidekicks. Tee Vee Man ends a political crisis and saves (an African) democracy, but he does so unknowingly as a kind of distant bystander to the main events of the day. Similarly, the letter-writer in “Infinite Variation” sees himself as essentially a powerless bystander in a situation in which he has no choice or control. Jason Berkley in “Cainn” grows and matures, but it is the system that has shaped Jason, not the other way around; he is acted upon more than he acts. Even, Alan Hamilton, the protagonist in “More in Heaven and Earth”, self-confident and self-assured though he may be, relies on his committee: ‘the Unit’ is successful under pressure because the team members, Alan included, are able to submerge their individual egos into the collective. The ultimate expression of the team’s unity is achieved thanks more to shy newcomer Janet, than to Alan’s leadership; and their enemies fail not because of any action on Alan’s part, but because they made the fatal mistake of trying to behave like alphas….
This orientation to the average citizen as protagonist, or the bystander point of view, often means Canadian SF tends towards introspective character studies rather than action-adventure. This in turn tends to give a rather bleak aspect to much of Canadian fiction, an aspect enhanced by the tendency to slow-paced action and thought-oriented stories. The rip-roaring, supercharged fun of Star-Wars-style space opera is primarily an American motif, out of the stories of the Old West. In contrast, in Hargreaves’ writing the action is often almost entirely cerebral. “Infinite Variation”, for example, is a letter seeking advice that cannot possibly arrive in time. It is not just that the point of view is that of an official who abdicates any responsibility for what is coming, and instead takes on the role of helpless bystander, but that the letter format itself removes the reader from directly observing the action. The story is entirely an abstraction, a thought experiment in colonialism and bureaucratic ethics. Similarly, in “‘Fore’-Eight-Sixteen”, the reader is isolated from direct observation of events by hearing an after-the-fact account in interview format: another thought experiment, though in this instance, the intent is to be humorous. In “Tangled Web”, the central crisis is triggered by a peaceful death from natural causes, and the resulting action is entirely bureaucratic, the combatants quoting regulations at each other rather than crossing lightsabers. Not exactly a seat-of-the-pants actioner, and yet, oddly satisfying. Similarly, Joe Schultz’s adventures in “Dead to the World” are existential rather than physical, and what actions he takes are entirely ineffectual. Yet it is a great story, a classic, frequently reprinted and eminently memorable.
Which brings us to the third characteristic of Canadian SF arising out of our uniquely alienated national identity: adopting the position of outsider or taking the point of view of the bystander allows one, as the detached observer, a certain independence of thought. Certainly, “Dead to the World” is an excellent example of a sardonic commentary on bureaucracy and modern life. I particularly loved how Hargreaves foreshadows the ending by revealing Joe Schultz’s slightly larcenous tendencies early on, when Joe appropriates that poor woman’s dessert. The invention of the robot police is obviously a necessity for the satire to work, but the end result is Joe Schultz blowing a great big raspberry to our dependence on the digital environment, three decades before ‘identify theft’ became a household phrase.
On the other hand, in spite of our national identity being grounded in a vague sense of alienation, there is nevertheless an underlying optimism to both Hargreaves’ writing and Canadian SF in general. We believe ourselves (again, whatever the reality) to be a bit nicer than others, to be focused on ‘doing the right thing’ (though others may not always see things the same way), and above all, to be able to endure. Can anyone read “Cainn” and not wish that our penal system were more like that? Tough love, but, you know: nice! “Tee Vee Man” and “More Things in Heaven and Earth” are about nice guys persisting in doing the right thing, even in the face of difficulties. All three stories are somewhat utopian, but even the much darker “2020 Vision” and “In His Moccasins” are optimistic in their way: civil society is starting to rebuild and the bad times are coming to an end in “2020 Vision”; and the villain gets his just deserts in “In His Moccasins”—though admittedly that last is more of a stretch on the ‘niceness’ dimension. Even here, however, one gets the sense that both protagonists will endure. Certainly that is the case for Joe Schultz, who muddles his way through in the end, though not necessarily to the goals he thought he was pursuing. Completely abandoned by society, he nevertheless survives and likely prospers.
I would argue, then, that the reason North By 2000 resonated with me and my fellow Canadians so strongly—why those stories remain so memorable after 40 years—is that they are quintessential Canadian literature. They capture and reflect back to us our national identity, our self-image, in a way that Campbellian or Wellisian science fiction may not. They address the themes and issues that matter to us as Canadians, and they do so in the low key, understated action of real life—my life—rather than some future projection of the gun-slinging heroes of the American frontier or the dashing gentleman spy of a decaying British Empire. Above all, of course, they succeed because they are well-constructed, well-written stories.
There is also another way in which Hargreaves as been a major inspiration to me. Hargreaves set aside one week every couple of years to write short fiction. The moral, for me, is that even if one cannot afford the luxury of becoming a full-time writer, one can still produce an impressive canon of significant and influential work over the course of a lifetime. That Hargreaves is a favorite among Canadian readers can be seen in his having been twice nominated in the “Lifetime Achievement” category for the Aurora Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Hugo Awards). Not bad for a total of ten short stories written over twenty-six years.
I am aware that there are many other potential nominees for recognition in the Hall of Fame. Indeed, I anticipate making nominations an annual habit. But I would argue that it would be most timely to recognize H. A. Hargreaves this year, because he is still with us, but in failing health. I would like to see him receive this recognition while he is still alive. He is, I think, the last of the pioneer generation of Canadian Greats (Van Vogt, Gotlieb, Merrill, and so on) still alive, so this is our final opportunity to present the award to a living recipient. Further, I think it logical to induct members of the original generation of modern SF writers before choosing to recognize more contemporary figures, and would argue that Hargreaves deserves to stand along side Gotlieb and Merrill as the most influential of the early Canadians.
- Colombo, John Robert “Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy—Is There Any?” in John Robert Colombo (ed.) Other Canadas. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1979.
- Kulyk, Christine, “And the Canadian Way…” The Monthly Monthly, No. 6, March 1980; reprinted in Orion, no. 2, 1982, and NCF Guide to Canadian Science Fiction Fandom, 3rd Ed, 1988.
- Hargreaves, H. A. “Canadian SF: Differences in the Tradition North of the Border”, panel discussion (with Michael Skeet) at Contex’89, Edmonton, July 1, 1989, reported by Steve Pikov in SubText #1, pp. 1-2.
- Runté, Robert, “Canadian Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction and Fantasy)” Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, William H. New (ed.) University of Toronto Press, 2002, pp. 1016-1021.
- Runté Robert and Christine Kulyk, “The Northern Cosmos: Distinctive Themes in Canadian SF”, in Out of This World: Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, pp. 41-50. Quarry Press (Kingston) and National Library of Canada (Ottawa), May 1995.
- Runté, Robert and Christine Kulyk, “Canadian Speculative Fiction”, ConAdian: Progress Report IV (52nd World Science Fiction Convention) Fall/Winter, 1993 pp. 16-21.
- Vonarburg, Elisabeth, “Francophone SF”, Panel Discussion, PineKone II / Canvention 9, Ottawa, Oct. 15, 1989, reported by Robert Runté in I’m Not Boring You, Am I? Vol.1, no.7, p. 18.
2016 – David Cronenberg
Born March 15, 1943 in Toronto, David Cronenberg meets the Hall of Fame’s eligibility requirement of Canadian citizenship. It should be noted that throughout his career, he has maintained his Canadian identity and residency, producing 19 of his 21 theatrical feature films in this country.
On the record as having been a science-fiction reader from childhood, he is today internationally recognized as an artist who has significantly influenced the genre. Although he has been the recipient of many honours over the years, the one most pertinent to this nomination is the online magazine Strange Horizons 2004 list of “The Ten Best Science Fiction Film Directors.” Cronenberg is ranked No. 2.
In the manner of a true artist, Cronenberg did not follow trends. Instead, he created his own, often pushing the boundaries of audience acceptance within his chosen genre. Among the science fictional elements present in his work are genetic mutation and manipulation, precognition, human-machine interface, teleportation, telekinesis and virtual reality.
The evolution of his narrative interests proceeded through at least five distinct phases. His earliest features — including 1975’s Shivers, Rabid (1977) and The Brood (1979) — are explorations of biological horror in which his characters’ bodies are in rebellion. With 1981’s Scanners and his Stephen King adaptation The Dead Zone (1983), he applied his distinct aesthetic to issues of the paranormal.
In what I consider his most Canadian film, 1983’s Videodrome, Cronenberg anticipated one of the 21st century’s great questions, our relationship to media. In it, he applied his unique vision to the work of Canada’s celebrated media critic Marshall McLuhan. (This is discussed at some length in my 1983 review.)
In his fourth phase, Cronenberg brought his biological preoccupations together with technology to produce a disturbing remake of The Fly (1986), then added issues of identity and sexuality in a thoroughly disturbing medical malpractice fable, Dead Ringers (1988).
Identity within circumstances of social dementia has became his focus as a mature artist, and is evident in such subsequent features as his William Burroughs adaptation Naked Lunch (1991), his J.G. Ballard adaptation Crash (1996) and eXistenZ (1999).
Though his recent features have not been within strict genre boundaries, his contributions to science fiction and fantasy are substantial and deserve CSFFA recognition.
2016 – Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavriel Kay (born November 7, 1954) is a Canadian writer of fantasy fiction. Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid. Those works are published and marketed as historical fantasy, although Kay has expressed a preference to avoid genre categorization.
As of early 2016, Kay has published 13 novels and a book of poetry. His fiction has been translated into more than 25 languages.
Kay was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
When Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien’s unpublished work, he chose Kay, then a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in editing The Silmarillion.
He returned to Canada in 1975 to take a law degree at the University of Toronto. He was called to the bar of Ontario in 1981.
Kay became Principal Writer and Associate Producer for a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio series, The Scales of Justice.
In 1984, Kay’s first fantasy work, The Summer Tree, the first volume of the trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry, was published.
Guy’s technique of using historical settings from around the world and giving them a magical twist has allowed him to capture the imagination of a world wide audience. He has shown that Canadian authors can reach across international borders. Guy, also a published poet, has a unique and lyrical writing style that invests readers emotionally in both the intimate lives of his characters, and the epic events of his stories.
Guy has won two Casper/Prix Aurora awards, for The Wandering Fire in 1987 and Tigana in 1991, and he has been nominated seven additional times. At the World Fantasy Convention in 2008 Guy won the World Fantasy award for Ysabel, a juried award for which he also has received several nominations. Kay was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2014 “for his contributions to the field of speculative fiction as an internationally celebrated author.
Kay won the 1985 Scales of Justice Award for best media treatment of a legal issue, Canadian Law Reform Commission, 1985, for Second Time Around.
Kay was runner up for the White Pine Award in 2007 for Ysabel.
Ysabel was the winner of the 2008 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
Kay has also won the International Goliardos Award for his work in the fantasy field.
Under Heaven won the Sunburst Award in 2011
For more details on his career and works go to:
Guy Gavriel Kay website: http://www.brightweavings.com/
Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Gavriel_Kay
2017 – Charles de Lint
Charles de Lint, in my mind, is one of the fathers of Urban Fantasy. He started writing in 1983 and has introduced us to fantastical worlds were the mundane and the magical meet. He has used Canadian native mythology along with European mythos to weave amazing tales.
Charles musical talents have made him a popular guest and conventions across Canada.
He has won numerous awards for both adult and YA genre fiction. He won the inaugural year for the Aurora award’s YA best novel category. He currently lives in Ottawa.
Charles de Lint is the author of more than eighty adult, young adult, and children’s books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora (three times), Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others and was recently inducted into the Canadian SF & Fantasy Association Hall of Fame.
De Lint is a poet, folklorist, artist, songwriter and performer. He has written critical essays, music reviews, opinion columns and entries to encyclopedias, and he’s been the main book reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction since 1987. De Lint served as Writer-in-residence for two public libraries in Ottawa and has taught creative writing workshops for adults and children in Canada and the United States. He’s been a judge for several prominent awards, including the Nebula, World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon and Bram Stoker.
Born in the Netherlands in 1951, de Lint immigrated to Canada with his family as an infant. The family moved often during de Lint’s childhood because of his father’s job with an international surveying company, but by the time Charles was twelve—having lived in Western Canada, Turkey and Lebanon—they had settled in Lucerne, Quebec, not far from where he now resides in Ottawa, Ontario.
In 1980, de Lint married the love of his life, MaryAnn Harris, who works closely with him as his first editor, business manager and creative partner. They share their love and home with a little dog named Johnny Cash.
Charles de Lint is best described as a romantic: a believer in compassion, hope and human potential. His skilled portrayal of character and settings has earned him a loyal readership and glowing praise from peers, reviewers and readers.
Charles de Lint writes like a magician. He draws out the strange inside our own world, weaving stories that feel more real than we are when we read them. He is, simply put, the best.
—Holly Black (bestselling author)
Charles de Lint is the modern master of urban fantasy. Folktale, myth, fairy tale, dreams, urban legend—all of it adds up to pure magic in de Lint’s vivid, original world. No one does it better.
—Alice Hoffman (bestselling author)
To read de Lint is to fall under the spell of a master storyteller, to be reminded of the greatness of life, of the beauty and majesty lurking in shadows and empty doorways.
—Quill & Quire
The Wind in His Heart, de Lint’s first adult novel in eight years, was published in September 2017, swiftly amassing five-star reviews from readers on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. Longtime fans are delighted that The Wind in His Heart has some Newford threads woven into the story. His fictional city of Newford gives readers a sense of visiting a favourite city and seeing old friends. Though not a consecutive series, the twenty-six standalone books set in or connected to Newford helped build de Lint’s reputation for bringing a vivid setting and cast of characters to life on the page.
De Lint’s young adult Wildlings trilogy—Under My Skin, Over My Head, and Out of This World—came out from Penguin Canada and Triskell Press in 2012, 2013 and 2014.Under My Skin won 2013 Aurora Award, as did Out of This World, in 2015. A novel for middle-grade readers, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, published by Little Brown in 2013, won the Sunburst Award, earned starred reviews in both Publishers Weekly and Quill & Quire, and was chosen by the New York Times as one of the top six children’s books for 2013.
De Lint’s storytelling skills also shine in his original songs. He and MaryAnn (also a musician) recently released companion CDs of their original songs, samples of which can be heard on de Lint’s website. A multi-instrumentalist, his main instruments are guitar, harmonica and vocals, while MaryAnn’s are mandolin, guitar, vocals and percussion.
A full bio can be found:
Submitted by Cliff Samuels < email@example.com >
2017 – Élisabeth Vonarburg
I feel that Elisabeth would be an excellent candidate for the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. She is one of the few French Canadian authors that is known across Canada. Her background, career and activities shows she cares deeply about the genre and has helped new and aspiring writers by running workshops.
Elisabeth’s is one of the few Canadian authors whose books are regularly translated from their original French to English. She has been active as both an author, translator and as an editor. She has translated dozens of English works to French by author such as Guy Gavriel Kay, Tanith Lee. R.A. Lafferty, Jack Williamson, Anne McCaffey, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. She has been active as both a fan, organizing the first Quebecois SF convention in 1979 (which is still happening annually) and as a teacher giving writer’s workshops. From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89lisabeth_Vonarburg Élisabeth Vonarburg (born 5 August 1947) is a science fiction writer. She was born in Paris (France) and has lived in Chicoutimi (now Saguenay), Quebec, Canada since 1973. From 1979 to 1990 she was the literary director of the French-Canadian Science Fiction magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité (The Silence in the City), appeared in 1981. She has received several awards, including “Le Grand Prix de la SF Française” in 1982 and a Philip K. Dick Award special citation in 1992 for In the Mothers’ Land the English version of Chroniques du pays des mères. She is the author of Cycle de Tyranaël.
2017 – Lorna Toolis
I have had the privilege and pleasure of working for Lorna for over 29 years. It’s been an adventure and an education, and if I try to tell you how much it has meant to me, I’m going to get all teary-eyed! Besides, I think Lorna already knows that.
But the Hall of Fame award we’re giving Lorna today is NOT ONLY in recognition of her enormous contribution to the Toronto Public Library during the 31 years as Senior Collection Head of the Merril Collection. Lorna’s achievements go back much further.
I recall Lorna telling us that she discovered science fiction at the age of 8, when she came across a boxful of Andre Norton books in her aunt’s closet. I hope I’m remembering that anecdote correctly, but even if I’m not, you get the idea. Lorna has been reading this stuff for a long time!
She became involved in fannish activities in the 1970s. Lorna was an active member of the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society (ESFCAS) from its founding in 1976 until 1986 when she came to Toronto. . She was also the editor of the ESFCAS club fanzine, Neology, for several years.
Even back then, Lorna was already an authority on science fiction. A mutual friend from Edmonton told me that he used to interview her on the subject for a local radio station during those days.
Lorna was the chair of Edmonton’s NonConII in 1979 and an active member of the committees of several other NonCons.
In 1986, Lorna came to Toronto to become the Collection Head of the Spaced Out Library / later Merril Collection, a position she held until her retirement this April, 2017. She has been a system resource and subject expert for all of TPL, and her knowledge has benefitted library users all across the city.
Lorna played an active role on the public committee that lobbied for and guided the construction of a new home for the Merril Collection. (And by that, I refer to the building we are standing in, which was opened in 1995.)
Lorna was a founding member of SF Canada, the organization of Canadian SF professionals, and was very helpful in arranging for the group’s incorporation in 1989,its first year of existence.
When Lorna arrived at the Spaced Out Library, back in 1986, one of the first things she did was to revive the Friends of the Spaced Out Library organization, which is now the vigorous group of hardworking volunteers known as the Friends of The Merril Collection. (Thank you, Friends of Merril!) Lorna has always supported the SF community by making the collection a gathering place and second home for SF readers and writers alike, and by helping the Friends to organize public events for authors, artists and editors.
Lorna’s encyclopedic knowledge of the genre has made her a frequent guest on radio and TV interview over the years. Lorna was a major source of inspiration and information for the writers of TVO’s Prisoners Of Gravity program, to name only one example. All of these activities have helped to promote the library but also the SF genre itself.
As you can see, the list goes on and on. I must admit that a great deal of it was shamelessly plagiarized from a letter by Mr. Do-Ming Lum, with his written permission. Thanks Do-Ming!
Let me summarize by quoting Do-Ming one more time:
“The number of members of the SF community whose lives were positively affected by Lorna’s presence and activity is significant. I can think of nobody more deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame.”
Lorna Toolis was first introduced to me as the new Collection Head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy in 1986 after the retirement of Lorna’s predecessor Doris Mehegan.
At that time, I was a citizen volunteer member of the Building Committee convened by Toronto Public Library to oversee the design of a building which would also house the Merril Collection. In addition, I was a founding member of the Friends of the Merril Collection.
The Friends of the Merril was an organization originally formed to demonstrate to management at TPL that there was in fact real grassroots support for the reference collection which in the mid 80s was recently renamed the Merril Collection of Science Fiction Speculation and Fantasy from its original inception name of The Spaced Out Library. In other words, a bluff. But it served its purpose — the Merril Collection was not shuttered, and it was included in the facilities that would be accommodated by a new building constructed at the corner of Spadina and College in the heart of downtown Toronto.
When Lorna took over as Collection Head, the Friends organization was extant but unfocused. Lorna quickly whipped it into shape, recognizing immediately that public outreach, demonstrable user statistics, and a vocal Friends organization were the key to long term survival. People like the late John Millard, Larry Hancock, Hugh Spencer, and myself served on the board the first few years. My overriding recollection is co-authoring with Hugh Spencer a document to respond to deficiencies in the Beckman Report, an external review commissioned by TPL from some consultants. As ours was a spontaneous grass roots response, Lorna could not help us or be associated with our work. The Beckman Report, we feared, was going to be the justification for a hatchet job on our beloved Special Collections. My recollection is that we submitted our response to the Library Board, and Hugh or I might have done a brief presentation at a city council meeting.
These events are all long past, and we never again got to a point where we though the City (and more critically the Library’s senior leadership) might axe the Collection, a state of affairs that I attribute to Lorna’s leadership – which is to say, the daily/weekly/yearly battles that she fought with TPL management on behalf of her staff and for the long term viability of the Collection. Those days may return, but of course this will be a challenge for Lorna’s successor, the new Collection Head and her faithful minions (and old cranky people looking on and heckling).
The new building at 239 College Street, the Lillian Smith Building, had been a product of the Library’s citizen consultation process – a process that lasted nearly ten years. Meeting with the Building Committee was part of the responsibility of two Collection heads – Lorna and her predecessor. The building design and details were ultimately finalized in the late 90s, and the new building was constructed. Lorna supervised and worked with her staff to move the Merril Collection from 40 St. George Street to new expanded facilities in the Lillian Smith Building’s third floor. During the finalization of the design and the lead-up to the construction process, Lorna had so irked the architect that he caused a cold air vent to be placed right above her desk, causing deep discomfort for the rest of her career. But Lorna’s demands ultimately proved to be quite reasonable in terms of the long term viability of the Collection, including things like staff workspace and compact storage for books. As a codicil to this narrative, it should be pointed out that TPL never again attempted to use a citizen consultation process for any future construction project.
Lorna’s presence in local Toronto fandom was never huge and was often so light as to be nearly unnoticed. But again, local and even national fandom would never justify the existence of the Collection. Which is why her efforts, and her staff’s efforts, and the harnessed effort of the Friends, was put into public outreach and internal education. One of the reasons behind the Collection’s last decade’s schedule of events and the push toward creating periodic public exhibits was to both showcase the Collection as well as to keep it in the public eye – thereby making it difficult for cost cutting managers to justify eliminating it. However, doing this also increased the visibility of science fiction literature, and science fiction as a media genre, as a whole in both Toronto and Canada. The welcoming presence of Lorna or her staff behind the desk at the Merril Collection has nurtured an entire new generation of fans. In addition, the Merril Collection as well as Lorna’s personal expertise in conjunction with her senior staff members has been an invaluable reference resource for international scholars and for authors.
Lorna absolutely deserves this award, both in the actual work she has done managing the Collection, as well as giving it direction. More importantly, the work that Lorna has done in mentoring staff has ensured that there is a pool of expertise available for science fiction related librarianship.
Do-Ming Lum — CSFFA member 222233
IT Project Manager, Durham College
Principal Consultant, Tiger Mountain Systems Consulting Inc.
2018 – Candas Jane Dorsey
Candas Jane Dorsey is the award-winning author of Black Wine, A Paradigm of Earth, Machine Sex and other stories (includes the Aurora Award winning story Sleeping in a Box) as well as other mainstream and slipstream books and stories. Dorsey co-edited Tesseracts3, Tesseracts8, the Prairie Fire WorldCon1994 special edition, and Land/Space. Candas Jane Dorsey€™s contribution to the Canadian SF&F scene in Canada and beyond has been exceptional. In some ways, if not for her, there wouldn’t be a scene at all as it appears today, as she was tireless and self-sacrificing on behalf of the community, including at the expense of her own writing time. She deserves to be honoured and recognised for the immense contribution she has made to SF&F in Canada. Full bio
2018 – Dr. Jaymie Matthews
Dr. Jaymie Matthews is a writer and producer, known for Space Suite III (2017), Space Suite (2015) and Space Suite II (2016). He is the principal investigator for the Canadian Space Agency’s MOST project, a space telescope project yielding observations in asteroseismology and in detection of visible-light signatures from extrasolar planets. He has been a member of several Canadian scientific committees and has been an invited speaker at many international scientific meetings. Full bio
2018 – Robert Charles Wilson
Robert Charles Wilson’s work has won the Hugo Award for Best Novel (for Spin), the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (for the novel The Chronoliths), the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award (for the novelette “The Cartesian Theater”), three Prix Aurora Awards (for the novels Blind Lake and Darwinia, and the short work “The Perseids”), and the Philip K. Dick Award (for the novel Mysterium). Full Bio
2019 – Tanya Huff
“Dexter thrust a pamphlet into Samuel’s hand. “Greenstreet Mission. We’re doing a Christmas dinner. You can get a meal and hear the word of God.” Samuel smiled in relief. This, finally, he understood. “Which word?” “What?” “Well, God’s said a lot of words, you know, and a word like ‘it’ or ‘the’ wouldn’t be worth hearing again but its always fun listening to Him try and say aluminum.” – Tanya Huff –
Tanya Sue Huff (born 1957) is a Canadian fantasy author. Her stories have been published since the late 1980s, including five fantasy series and one science fiction series. One of these, her Blood Books series, featuring detective Vicki Nelson, was adapted for television under the title Blood Ties.
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Huff was raised in Kingston, Ontario. Her first sale as a writer was to The Picton Gazette when she was ten. They paid $10 for two of her poems. Huff joined the Canadian Naval Reserve in 1975 as a cook, ending her service in 1979. In 1982 she received a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, Ontario; she was in the same class as noted science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer; they collaborated on their final TV Studio Lab assignment, a short science-fiction show.
In the early 1980s she worked at Mr. Gameway’s Ark, a game store in Downtown Toronto. From 1984 to 1992 she worked at Bakka, North America’s oldest surviving science fiction book store, in Toronto. During this time she wrote seven novels and nine short stories, many of which were subsequently published. Her first professional sale was to George Scithers, the editor of Amazing Stories in 1985, who bought her short story “Third Time Lucky“. She was a member of the Bunch of Seven writing group. In 1992, after living for 13 years in downtown Toronto, she moved with her four large cats to rural Ontario, where she currently resides with her wife, fellow fantasy writer Fiona Patton. Her current pet population consists of six cats and what she describes as an “unintentional chihuahua“.
Huff is one of the most prominent Canadian authors in the category of contemporary fantasy, a subgenre pioneered by Charles de Lint. Many of the scenes in her stories are near places where she has lived or frequented in Toronto, Kingston, and elsewhere. This author frequently uses as character names the names of people in her circle of acquaintances. A prolific author, “she has written everything from horror to romantic fantasy to contemporary fantasy to humour to space opera.”
She appeared in a 2009 documentary Pretty Bloody: The Women of Horror.
2019 – Eileen Kernaghan
Eileen Kernaghan grew up on a dairy farm outside Grindrod, B.C., Canada, population 600. The reading material she found on the family shelves – Greek myths, historical novels, G. A. Henty‘s boys’ adventure books, a collection of Weird Tales and Thrilling Wonder Stories – helped to shape her writing career.
Her first published story, written when she was twelve, appeared in the Vancouver Sun newspaper. It earned her a byline, an illustration, and a cheque for $12.65. Her next appearance in print, twenty years later, was with a cover story in the New York science fiction magazine Galaxy. She went on to write the “Grey Isles” series, a Bronze Age trilogy based on the origins of Stonehenge. Journey to Aprilioth, Songs from the Drowned Lands and The Sarsen Witch were published by Ace Books during the 1980s.
As for her day jobs, they’ve included elementary school teaching, arts administration, operating a used bookstore with her husband Pat, and, for many years, teaching creative writing at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in Burnaby, and Port Moody’s Kyle Centre. She has three adult children and four grandchildren.
Not only is Eileen a highly credited author, she’s also been giving back to the writing community for many, many years.Eileen has won multiple awards, including the Silver Medal Award for original fantasy from West Coast Review of Books, the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy (CASPAR) Award, an Aurora Award, and a Canada 124 Medal for community arts activism.
She has been an active member of SF Canada for many years and was one of the first published women science fiction writers in the country.
Involved with the Burnaby Writers Society since the mid-sixties Eileen has worked tirelessly to provide market information and mentoring through the meetings and newsletter. She’s also a regular supporter of the Burnaby Writers Society reading series, Eileen has taught a Manuscript Workshop in Burnaby at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts since the early nineties, as well as at Port Moody’s Kyle Centre, helping many authors improve their skills.
Eileen has been a part of VCon, Vancouver’s regional Science Fiction convention, since the very beginning, attending almost every year as a participant on panels, as well as givingÂ her time to the Turkey Readings in order to raise money for charity. Eileen has been a mentor to so many in the writing community, including myself and other authors like Linda Demeulemeester. For me personally, Eileen has been a tremendous instructor, motivator and friend in the publishing industry. I believe she is deserving of this honour.
2019 – Graeme Cameron
R. Graeme Cameron
Graeme has been deeply involved with science fiction and fantasy fandom all of his life. He was a founding member of VCON “ Vancouver’s premier science fiction and fantasy convention being on the organizing committee for the event held in 1971 that would, retroactively, become known as VCON 1 and continues to attend and participate as a member of the ConCom and a program participant to this date. Most recently, over the past few years he has held the position of moderator for VCON’s Clarion-style writers’ workshops which bring together published pro writers with unpublished writers and their short stories or start of a novel and has also been responsible for the content of VCON’s program book.
Graeme is also the Archivist for VCON and several other fannish organizations including the West Coast Science Fiction Association, (VCON’s parent non-profit organization), the BC Science Fiction Association, and the Canadian Fanzine Fanac Awards Society. As the archivist for these groups he has been collecting documents and artefacts from each for decades, keeping them all well filed and organized. He has been doing it long enough that he has dedicated an entire room of his home to archives!
Graeme is also a long-time Fanzine Editor who has been nominated for and even won Aurora Awards for his various fan publications. He is also the curator of the Canadian Science Fiction Fanzine Archive and In 2013 he started up web site for the archive where he has begun the time consuming task of scanning and uploading the many, many (yes many!) fanzines in his collection to the internet for all the world to see.
And finally, Graeme is the man who has kept VCON’s famous Elron Awards (given out for the most dubious “achievements” in science and science fiction) alive and is also behind the more recently (and more serious) FanEds (or Canadian Fanzine Fanac Awards).
2020 – Heather Dale
A Canadian recording artist with Celtic roots, Heather Dale deftly transcends the limits of both Celtic balladeers and folk singer-songwriters. She finds contemporary themes within old material, and fuses folk traditions with blues, jazz, and world music influences. Often compared to Loreena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan, Dale’s unique vocals are paired with more than a dozen folk instruments in live performances with multi-instrumentalist Ben Deschamps and the Amphis Chamber Strings.
Dale has released 15 studio albums, five live albums, three songbooks, and a full-length musical theatre work based on the King Arthur legend titled “Queens of Avalon.” An evocative and often surprising wordsmith, Dale’s poetry has been featured in seven novels written by New York Times bestselling authors S.M. Stirling and E.K. Johnston. Her hit song, “Mordred’s Lullaby” has been viewed more than 20 million times on YouTube.
Dale is equally comfortable as a businesswoman: she is the head of her own record label Amphis Music, an arts entrepreneur, an experienced audio engineer, and a popular public speaker about independent music in the 21st century. You can watch her TEDx Talk here.
DETAILED BIO: “Half A Million Miles: The Long Read”
2020 – Cory Doctorow
Cory Efram Doctorow is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing.
Canadian-born Cory Doctorow has held policy positions with Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation and been a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Southern California.
He is a co-editor of the popular weblog BoingBoing (boingboing.net), which receives over three million visitors a month. His science fiction has won numerous awards, and his YA novel LITTLE BROTHER spent seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
He is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licences for his books. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, and post-scarcity economics.
2020 – Matt Hughes
His novels are: Fools Errant, Fool Me Twice, Black Brillion, Majestrum, The Commons, The Spiral Labyrinth, Template, Hespira, The Other, The Damned Busters, Costume Not Included, Hell to Pay, Song of the Serpent (as Hugh Matthews), A Wizard’s Henchman, and A God in Chains.
His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Postscripts, Storyteller, Interzone, Amazing, and several anthologies edited by Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin, including the bestseller, Rogues.
His works have been short-listed for the Aurora, Nebula, Philip K Dick, A.E. Van Vogt, and Endeavour Awards.
Matt Hughes – Something of Myself
The name I answer to is Matt Hughes. I write fantasy and suspense fiction. To keep the two genres separate, I now use my full name, Matthew Hughes, for fantasy, and the shorter form for the crime stuff. I also write media tie-ins as Hugh Matthews.
I’ve won the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award, and have been shortlisted for the Aurora, Nebula, Philip K. Dick, Endeavour, A.E. Van Vogt, and Derringer Awards.
I was born seventy years ago in Liverpool, England, but my family moved to Canada when I was five. I’ve made my living as a writer all of my adult life, first as a journalist, then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and — from 1979 until a few years back– as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia.
I’m a university drop-out from a working poor background. Before getting into newspapers, I worked in a factory that made school desks, drove a grocery delivery truck, was night janitor in a GM dealership, and did a short stint as an orderly in a private mental hospital. As a teenager, I served a year as a volunteer with the Company of Young Canadians (something like VISTA in the US). I’ve been married to a very patient woman since the late 1960s, and I have three grown sons.
In late 2007, I took up a secondary occupation — that of an unpaid housesitter — so that I can afford to keep on writing fiction yet still eat every day. These days, any snail-mail address of mine must be considered temporary; but you can send me an e-mail by clicking on my name in the sidebar of this page. I’m always interested to hear from people who’ve read my work.
His web page is at https://www.matthewhughes.org
2021 – Monica Hughes
Monica Hughes Invitation to the Game is the most accurate YA novel from recent history to express a dystopia that seems familiar to our actual circumstance. – Hughes’ work covered a broad range of topics from an accessible perspective, including environmental degratation, oceanic colonization, moon colonization, and drought. – Hughes’ lead characters were gender-balanced, frequently young ladies or young men. – Hughes’ book Invitation to the Game could form the basis of this nomination alone, dealing with, as it does, issues of wealth inequality, how to effectively squat, what art might constitutes, american-apparel style clothing restrictions, food credits, e-readers, and virtual reality. In the same book she manages to accurately work in survival skills, chemistry lessons, a lesson on clay, and a vivid representation of the difference between a game and reality. Hughes’ other work handles virtual reality elegantly. Devil on my Back, despite being for seven-year-olds, adequately expresses the class issues of technological supervision decades before Cory Doctorow’s comparable Little Brother. She also prefigures Siri. This is two of her books. She wrote 35 books before she was done, including The Crystal Drop, which deals with drought and food consumption in Canada decades before Atwood’s similar treatment, and The Golden Aquarians, which explains how amphibians can tell you about water pollution. Her other works, including Crisis on Conshelf 10 (Human genetic modification, freedom of choice), and Earthdark (water abuse, moon colonization) decades before adequate treatment was present elsewhere. Throughout these books, she handles gender with an even hand, presenting male and female leads as people who have agency in their own lives. – Her most famous trilogy, The Isis Light, is similarly about xenophobia. Hughes is appropriate for the Hall of Fame because her books are accessible, and still resonate today with young people just getting into the discipline. I would argue harder for her, but I have to go talk to my sister about themes of disenfranchisement in Invitation to the Game. Further information <http://web.uvic.ca/~kkeenan/a2/monicahughes/bio.html>
2021 – Stan Hyde
Stan Hyde I nominate Stan G. Hyde as an exemplar of passionate, lifelong devotion to SF&F fandom and fan activity, specifically in the areas of club organization, writing, film media, and model kit making, painting, and collecting.
- Stan is a retired school teacher who has been a genre fan his entire life, attending his first convention (the Toronto Worldcon) in 1973.
- – He founded SFAV (the Science Fiction Association of Victoria) in 1975.
- – As founder (and occasional President) of SFAV, Stan wrote numerous columns under the title The Light-Hearted Vituperator and Jolly Reviler for the SFAV clubzines Phoenix and From the Ashes. These columns were primarily devoted to SF&F films past and present, but often discussed the state of contemporary fandom as well.
- – Later, on a monthly basis, he continued Light-Hearted in BCSFAzine (newsletter of the B.C. SF Association) from #193 (June 1989) to #269 (October 1995).
- – Harlan Ellison once phoned Stan long distance to thank him for comments he’d made in a particular Light-Hearted column in BCSFAzine.
- – Spider Robinson described one of Stan’s columns as a “Damn fine piece of work, moving and thoughtful …”
- – Stan also helped found Monster Attack Team Canada in 1989, a club consisting mostly of professional designers and artists in the local film industry (including VCON 41 Film Design Artist Eric Chu). M.A.T.C. specializes in building and painting rare “garage” kits (limited edition kits) which members have often displayed at VCON.
- – Stan is renowned, especially among model kit builders and collectors, for the incredible quality and fine detail of his paintwork on various model kits, so much so that he was Artist Guest of Honour at VCON 22 in 1997.
- – To further advance fan awareness of this particular sub-niche fandom, Stan has offered model construction and painting workshops and demonstrations at VCON for over twenty years, often organizing participation by other M.A.T.C. members.
- – This year at VCON 41 Stan is organizing a complete track of programming devoted to SF&F kits associated with movies, with particular focus on kits of stop-motion figures which appeared in the films of Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen (in keeping with VCON’ theme this year of “Muppets, Puppets, & Marionettes.”
- – Another example of “furthering the cause” would be the article featuring photographs of Stan’s young daughter Sarah playing with his models from his collection which appeared in the McDonald’s Restaurant Fun Times Magazine in 1991.
- – Stan is also noted for the numerous articles he has written for G-Fest, a magazine devoted to the topic of Godzilla, about whom Stan is a world-renowned expert and recognised as such by Toho studios where he is always welcome. (He visits once every two years on average.)
- – Stan is noted for his humour and enthusiasm in giving presentations, perhaps most notably in the Godzilla Sex Life Lecture which he co-wrote with R. Graeme Cameron and co-performed on at least twenty occasions at various conventions in the Pacific NorthWest.
- – Stan is also noted for his Monster Movie Sing Along sessions performed often at VCON and also at G-Fest conventions in Chicago.
- – To sum up, Stan is a master at using humour and light-hearted enthusiasm to stir up “a sense of wonder” among fans previously unfamiliar in detail with stop motion animation, men-in-suit monster films, rare B movies, model kits, and club organizations.
- – I would describe him as a one-man electric dynamo sparking interest and excitement in myriad aspects of SF&F fandom wherever he appears. This is why he has been made VCON 41Fan Guest of Honour this year.
In my opinion Stan is precisely the sort of enthusiastic, dedicated fan SF&F fandom relies on to stay alive, recruit new members, and evolve into the future. He is the archetype, the perfect example, the exemplar, of the kind of fan fandom needs most. Love of the genre doesn’t get any better than Stan. Sincerely yours, R. Graeme Cameron P.S. Stan is branching out. His fantasy fiction story The Nature of Demons will appear soon in issue #2 of Polar Borealis Magazine. It is Stan’s first short story sale.
2021 – Jean-Louis Trudel
2022 – Julie E. Czerneda
Julie E. Czerneda: Fantasy and Science Fiction author and editor, and winner of seven Aurora Awards. Since 1997, Julie E. Czerneda has turned her love and knowledge of biology into science fiction novels and short stories that have received international acclaim, multiple awards, and best-selling status.
2022 – Ed Greenwood
Ed Greenwood: Fantasy author, editor, and creator of the Forgotten Realms game world. In 1979 he began writing articles about it for Dragon magazine and subsequently sold the rights to TSR. He has published over 35 novels for TSR and contributed to over 200 books and game products for other publishers.
2022 – Hayden Trenholm
Hayden Trenholm: Science Fiction writer and editor, winner of five Aurora Awards, and publisher (Bundoran Press). Over the years, Hayden has published 4 novels and more than 30 short stories in the field. Despite his work as an editor (17 novels and 5 anthologies for Bundoran Press plus numerous freelance assignments) he has continued to write and consistently adds to his short fiction tally.
2023 – Clifford Samuels
Clifford Samuels has been a fixture of Canadian fandom for all of his adult life. An avid reader and book collector of speculative fiction, he is also a beta reader for Canadian author Dave Duncan. He first began working on conventions with Non-Con 4 in 1981 and volunteered again when Non-Con returned to Calgary in 1983. His experience with Non-Con led to Cliff helping to co-found Con-Version (Calgary’s SF&F convention that ran from 1984 – 2010). He sat on the committee holding various jobs throughout the early years. and chaired the convention in 1988. He received the SuperFan award for Con-Version I (1984) and III (1986). Cliff was also an instrumental volunteer on the two BanffCons, handling publicity for 1989 and registration for 1995. And was part of the bid committee that brought the World Fantasy Convention to Calgary in 2008 as well as volunteering as a key member of its convention committee. When Con-Version was retired in 2010, Cliff helped found the When Words Collide Festival (2011 to 2023) and has been an instrumental member of its committee, holding a range of positions including vice-president and treasurer. In addition to con-running, Cliff has also been a major participant in costuming, not just at Con-Version, but at other North American conventions including CostumeCon, on whose committee he served when CostumeCon was held in Calgary in 2001, his wife Eileen Capes serving as chair. From 2007(*) to present Cliff has been a board member of CSFFA (the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association), serving briefly as president but primarily as awards administrator. In conclusion, Cliff has been the main pillar of support for Calgary fandom for almost four decades, his contribution reaching beyond the city, beyond the province, indeed, beyond the country.
2023 – Michelle Sagara
Michelle Sagara: Japanese-Canadian author (born 1963) has published as both Saraga, Sagara-West, and West. Michelle Sagara lives in Toronto, in Canada, and writes long books, often accidentally. She works part-time at Bakka-Phoenix books, where she has worked since 1986. She has two sons and a long-suffering husband, but no other pets.
She started writing in 1991 and has published over 30 novels. First under Sagara-West with a four book series, starting with Into the Dark Lands. In 1995 she started getting published by DAW books for her The Sacred Hunt series. Her longest fantasy series, Chronicles of Elantra, has currently 14 volumes. It is published under Michele Sagara by Harlequin.
My legal name is: Michelle Sagara. (Technically, Michelle Michiko Sagara).
I would like to state that up front, because what follows might cause some confusion — and if you’re not up to a somewhat long post about why this is significant, this is the time to scroll quickly up the friends list.
Let me drift back, for a moment, to my university life. The one in which I had no full-time job, no husband, no mortgage, no children — and nothing but poetry published. No matter how miserable we are in our youth, no matter how isolated we feel, we all find our tribe eventually, and I found mine at the University of Toronto. This tribe was a group of computer science/physics/math geeks, some of who were women. I was the ringer. The guys in the group had (mostly) attended private schools for the high school leg of their education, and for reasons that have something to do with private schools, all of the guys were known by their last names. All of the guys… and me. I was Sagara. No, I don’t know why, but I didn’t mind. I grew up with two younger brothers, and I have been called much worse.
When I got engaged to my husband, Thomas, we had a discussion about name, specifically, whether or not I would take his last name when we married. His last name is West. We decided — partly because at that time most of our friends were still calling me “Sagara!”, and partly because in 1989, the legality of the name change required that I get all new I.D., including Birth Certificate, under the married name — that I would keep my name.
My husband’s relatives call me “Michelle West” or even “Mrs. West”. It doesn’t bother me. When our sons — who are both Wests — went to school, I expected that all the teachers would also call me “Mrs. West” (nor was I wrong), and that doesn’t bother me either. I understand all the reasons for correcting them, but I also understand all the reasons why they do it, and it doesn’t seem worth it — to me — to make a fuss. (Also, see above, re: life with two younger brothers.)
I submitted my first novel to Del Rey in 1987. They bought it in 1990, after it had been extensively revised. It was published under my name, Michelle Sagara.
When my oldest son was born, I started writing Hunter’s Oath, and that book eventually went to DAW. For a variety of reasons that made good sense at the time, it was published under the name Michelle West. I could have chosen an entirely different name, but… I am often so totally over-focused on whatever I’m thinking that I have (twice) walked into moving cars because I did not see them. If I wrote under a totally different name — for example, Kate Elliott — I was worried that if I went to a convention or a public gathering as Kate, I would not actually recognize the use of the pseudonym in time to respond to it — at all. And people in general are not made happier when they think they’re being ignored. Michelle West, I reasoned, would be easy because half of the known world already calls me that, and it’s my married name.
So far, so good. There was a bit of confusion about the short stories that I published around that time, because some of them were Sagara and some of them were West; one cover proof listed the story as being by Sagara, but the interior pages were authored by West. David Hartwell caught me in the halls at one convention and told me that my name was important, and I should choose one and stick with it (because, among other things, it made bibliographer’s lives hell).
But the truth is: I wasn’t fussed. I honestly didn’t care what name appeared on the books. I wanted to write those books. I got to write those books. The name, and whether or not it was obviously attached to me, didn’t seem all that important. It was the words themselves that mattered to me, and they were all there, regardless.
David Hartwell is smarter than me. (Or: Sometimes I am a stupid idiot.)
We fast forward a bit. The DAW books are in print; the Del Rey books are out of print. I write the proposal for the Luna books, and I submit them to the editor — but I tell my agent that I do not want the books published as Michelle West titles. He’s fine with that and tells me to come up with a pseudonym. But … I’m concerned. I don’t want my Luna editor to think I’m ashamed of the books I’ve submitted to her. So, fretting about this, I eventually call the editor and tell her that I am not ashamed of these books, that I’m not trying to hide them, and that I’m perfectly happy to have these books published under my legal name, Michelle Sagara — I just want the names to be different because I really think they’re substantially different in tone from the West novels.
(This was fun, because she had never read the West novels, but she had read the Del Rey ones, and she hadn’t realized that I’d written them).
She is happy to do this; I’m happy to do this. We’re all happy. And I am now being published under my legal name and my married name.
But before Cast in Shadow is published, Glen Yeffeth at BenBella Books asks about reprint rights for my old, out of print, Del Rey series. He wants, however, to publish them as “Michelle West” titles, because the numbers for those are in Bookscan and he can show them to the sales reps; the Sagara books were pre-bookscan, like dinosaurs. I suggest that he might want to use the Sagara name anyway, because I think there’s a better chance that the Luna readers will like them, and the first Luna title will be published a month or so before the first reprint. There is back and forth on this, and eventually, he chooses to publish them as: Michelle Sagara West titles.
And this, dear readers, is where it all starts to fall down.
There is this wonderful thing called wikipedia. The day my wikipedia entry went up, my wonderful husband came home and showed it to me. It was an entry on “Michelle Sagara”, with admittedly not a huge amount of information, but what was there was accurate. I thought “that’s pretty cool”, and left it at that.
Someone else didn’t leave it at that, and at some point, the entry morphed into: Michelle Sagara West. I’m not sure when it happened. Or why. It happened, oddly enough, well before the BenBella reprints.
This was slightly troubling — but, in the end, it’s just a name, and I don’t know enough about wikis to change it. (Yes, yes, you can laugh at me now. I should have changed it, or had someone change it, right away — but it wasn’t my sandbox, and it seemed harmless, and it was pointing people at the books themselves, and that’s the important thing…)
But … then people started using “Michelle Sagara West” as my actual name. I would see it on-line, and in biographical notes: Michelle Sagara West; writes as Michelle Sagara and Michelle West.
Three days ago, I received a cheque from the PLR (Public Lending Rights) Commission. And for the first time ever, it was made out to “Michelle Sagara West”. I have no idea why. In theory, all of the information they have on file is filed by me, and I certainly didn’t ask for a name change. In fact, I have no idea how one would get one’s name changed, because there’s only room for a change of address on the form they send yearly.
But someone had helpfully looked it up somewhere, and changed it, because last year’s PLR cheque came to Michelle Sagara. So now I carry a marriage certificate when I go to the bank, and I’m wondering what other non-related piece of mail will arrive with this ‘correction’. Because clearly, the internet is more of an authority than I thought.
And I tell you this cautionary tale so that you can learn from my idiocy and avoid making the same mistake. Or, alternately, you can make the exact same mistake because misery loves company, and come huddle in the corner with me.
2023 – John Robert Colombo
John Robert Colombo has been called “the Master Gatherer” for his compilations of Canadiana. He is a member of the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario, and has written, compiled, and translated more books than any other serious Canadian author. More than 200 titles of his books have been published since 1960. http://colombo.ca/